Dundalk may have collected no points in this season’s Europa League group stage but defender Daniel Cleary insists scoring three goals at Rapid Vienna means they have “nothing to fear” in Thursday’s return match.
The Lilywhites have been beaten by the odd goal in two of their three Group B matches, including a 4-3 loss in the Austrian capital three weeks ago that leaves the Irish side on the verge of elimination.
But despite a forgettable run in the competition, Cleary is adamant they can take heart from their last outing when Rapid visit Dublin’s Aviva Stadium – although he admitted Dundalk need to tighten up at the back.
“If we keep a clean sheet I think we’ll be successful,” he told a press conference “Conceding four killed us in Vienna so the key here will be keeping a clean sheet.
“In Vienna, I think we showed how competitive we can be in Europe at the top level and after scoring three goals away in Europe, we have nothing to fear. We’re going into the game here with lots of confidence.”
Sean Gannon, who was pushed into a midfield role last time out, echoed his team-mate’s assessment and noted that last week’s win over domestic rivals Bohemians in their FAI Cup quarter-final has given Dundalk a lift.
“To go away from home and score three goals shows we were very competitive and we were very unlucky,” he said.
“We can take confidence from that and last Friday’s win over Bohemians. We know there wasn’t much between us in the last game and we feel we have a real chance.
“We’re not here to make up the numbers, we’re here on merit and although things have gone against us in previous games we’ve been competitive and there are lots of positives to take.
“When we go out, we don’t feel inferior. Yeah, we want to have fun and enjoy it, but now that we are here we want to win games and get points on the board.”
Rapid head coach Dietmar Kuhbauer has not travelled with the group due to illness, meaning assistant Manfred Nastl will take charge of the visitors in the Irish capital.
Midfielder Thorsten Schick said in quotes on the club’s official website: “It will definitely be a tough challenge, we played against them a few weeks ago and we know what to expect.
“We really want to win the game and, at the end of the day, only the three points will count.”